Prepared Boston Police were On Spot Online during Bombing Aftermath

Posted on April 24th, 2013 by admin Categories Social Engagement

The impressive work of the Boston Police responding to last Monday’s bombing extended to its social media presence as well.  As Yar Bar-tur’s article on Mashable points out, the success on social media was not a new thing for the BPD.

The 40,000 followers that the Boston Police had on Twitter prior to the bombing was the result of time and effort invested into community relations by the department.  Since engagement with its constituency had already been established, the BPD online was prepared to communicate effectively via social media during this crisis.

A few highlights of Boston Police Department’s online activity:

Correcting errors in reporting- As events unfolded last week, information was flowing freely through social media and traditional means.  The BPD monitored the information diligently and used its presence on social media to make sure that as many people as possible had accurate information.  For example, shortly after the bombing took place, the Boston Police Department announced via Twitter that, contrary to various reports, no arrests had yet taken place. This announcement was retweeted more than 11,000 times.

Letting readers know what they need- When police began closing in on one of the suspects, some sources were tweeting information from police scanners that had the potential to put officers in danger. The Boston PD firmly but politely tweeted a reminder that such information should not be publicly shared. This tweet was retweeted more than 20,000 times, further supporting the department’s efforts.

Leading the investigation- The department was on top of things online throughout the crisis.  They distributed good information and negated bad information in a timely manner.  They were so effective in fact that when the bombing suspect was finally apprehended, local reporters waited on a tweet from the Boston Police Department before making the official announcement.

The ability of the Boston Police Department to engage so effectively with its online audience during this highly stressful time, is evidence of the level of preparation that the department had made prior to the crisis under the leadership of Police Commissioner Davis and his team.  The Department’s investment into actively using social media to connect with its community reaped big dividends during recent events.

How did you use social media to follow the events in Boston last week?  Share in a comment below.


University of Houston Students Use Social Media to Make Their Voice Heard

Posted on April 17th, 2013 by admin Categories Social Media

A group of graduate students at the University of Houston used social media to address their poor working conditions, and it worked.

The basic issue facing the students of the school’s creative writing program was a paltry stipend. Graduate students in the program had not received a raise in 20 years. Further compounding the problem, students were not allowed, by policy, to seek employment outside of their role as graduate assistants.


Skipping ahead to the end of the story: the university’s president recently announced that $1 million dollars would be redirected to the creative writing department. These funds will be used to begin to address the low pay that graduate assistants receive.


So, what part did social media play in this change? What steps did students take to make their voices heard?

Online Petition Circulated- In the fall, tuition at the school was raised by $100; however, the tuition waiver graduate students receive was not raised to cover that increase.  In response, a petition was circulated in protest on Facebook. The original goal of 50 signatures was surpassed and 300 individuals took a stand online with the U of H students.

Profile Pictures get a New Look- In February, graduate students were asked to change their profile pictures to support the cause. The new picture depicted a cougar dressed as an indentured servant. The caption for the picture read, “UH English TAs, Making $11,000 since 1993”. During the school’s prime recruiting period, scores of students and alumni changed their picture and made a statement.

Facebook Page Created, Takes Off- Students created a Facebook page which served as a source of information about the cause. A picture of a peaceful sit-in outside the university president’s office in April was posted on the page. It was shared 76 times.

Twitter Used to Reach out to the Media- Students tweeted information about the sit-in to numerous media outlets. The event was covered by The Houston Chronicle, The Houston Press, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Last but not least, Memes- During the second and third day of the sit-in, several appropriate memes were created to take the message to new heights. One notable attention getter featured singer Billy Ray Cyrus.

As mentioned above, the social media efforts of these University of Houston students had the intended effect. The university is taking steps to address their concerns. How has your business used social media to make its voice heard in a unique way? Share a comment below.



Building a Better Business Blog

Posted on April 10th, 2013 by admin Categories Blog

A blog can be a wonderful thing for your business.  Unlike platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, whose formats, while very useful,  necessitate truncated messages, a blog allows your business to communicate with its audience in a more complete manner.

If your business is just starting its blog, or if it has been blogging for awhile, we have a few tips that will help make your offerings more helpful to your audience.

1. Strategize

It’s best to know what you are trying to accomplish and how you are going to go about it before you start your blog. Actually, experts recommend not starting a blog if you aren’t going to be able to create enough content to keep it current.

If you can keep your blog updated consistently, plan ahead, so that you provide readers with timely material.  Know what you want to accomplish with your blog posts and create with this goal in mind.

2. Use Hyperlinks

By linking to other sites, you accomplish at least two things.  First, you give due credit to the source from which you got your information.  Second, you give your business an opportunity to expand its connections within the industry.

3. Multiply the Media

It is a good idea to augment your well-written words with other types of information.  Hold onto the short attention spans of your readers by giving them other items of interest.  Embedding pertinent videos, images or audio are a few examples of this useful practice.

4. Interact

Your blog can be a great way to engage your audience, encourage communication and build community.  Take the time to respond to positive and negative comments on your blog.  This investment will help your business build rapport with various stakeholders in your industry’s online community.

How has your company used its blog to build its relationship with its audience? Share in a comment below.

The Amazing Race Slow to Respond to Criticism on Social Media

Posted on April 3rd, 2013 by admin Categories Marketing

Talk about being slow to speak and quick to listen. In the face of a social media firestorm two weeks ago, The Amazing Race was surprisingly quiet on social media.

Hundreds of fans of the show’s Facebook page commented negatively on a segment of the March 17 episode that they found offensive.  In addition, many Twitter users employed the hashtag “cbsapologize” to communicate their displeasure with the show’s content.  Throughout the week of March 17, representatives of the show did not respond via social media to the criticism. Instead, their response, an apology, aired on primetime television at the beginning of the March 24 episode.


What Caused the Buzz?


The March 17 episode of The Amazing Race was set in Vietnam.  Two segments of that evening’s show touched a nerve with Vietnam veterans and their loved ones.  First, racers found one of their clues directly in front of a war memorial, which commemorated the wreckage of a downed American B-52.  In addition, as part of the competition, contestants listened repeatedly to a communist victory song.  A substantial number of viewers took issue with these elements of the program and aired their displeasure via social media.

In addition to the online reaction, The Amazing Race received a scathing letter from the Veterans of Foreign Wars shortly after the episode aired.  In the letter, John Hamilton National Commander of the VFW told CBS that these scenes were “totally unnecessary to the show’s plot.”

Is the Apology Accepted?

CBS’ apology was posted on The Amazing Race’s Facebook page shortly after it aired on television.  It was accepted by numerous military agencies and Senator John McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.  Further, many of the responses to the apology on social media were positive.  However, some fans indicated that the show’s delayed response caused them to doubt the sincerity of their apology.

All’s Well that Ends Well?

By airing their apology on national television, The Amazing Race showed that it heard what people were saying about them on social media and elsewhere after the Vietnam episode.  They even responded in a manner that satisfactorily answered most of the criticism the show had received.  However, some damage was done to the show’s brand by their slow response.  The spread of bad vibes could have been tempered if The Amazing Race had more proactively engaged with its 1.5 million fans on Facebook and its 150,000 followers on Twitter.

What do you think about the way The Amazing Race responded to this situation?  Share in a comment below.